Two years ago, the newly formed Greenbelt Cultural Arts Center decided to refurbish and reopen the Utopia Theater, the city's once-busy movie house that had closed three years before.
Progress on the work was slow because the center is supported mainly by local contributions.
But the group may see the fulfillment of its goal through a merging of commercial and cultural interests, according to arts center president Konrad Herling.
The Greenbelt City Council is considering an arts center proposal to hold fund-raising flea markets in the community's Center Mall, the location of the Utopia Theater.
Vendor space would be rented and proceeds would go to the cultural center, Herling said.
The proposal stems from a Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission recommendation that arts and crafts sales be sponsored to raise money to revitalize the center.
Council members have reacted favorably to the idea, but some have expressed reservations about how the markets would work, according to Mayor Richard Castaldi.
"I have mixed emotions about the plan," Castaldi said. "If done properly it could be of benefit to both the cultural center and the commercial center, but there are some problems such as limited parking, traffic congestion and the possibility of vendors taking business away from merchants in the center."
Castaldi also said that if the flea markets are approved they would have to be phased in slowly and in an orderly fashion. He said he believed that a security deposit should be required to ensure clean-up after the markets, and that the events would have to be monitored closely.
Herling, who envisions the markets as combination arts-and-crafts fairs and yard sales, said such a project would help the Utopia Theater project.
The Cultural Arts Center offers a variety of programs, including plays, musicals, concerts and exhibits, in the partially renovated theater. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform there June 2, and the center plans to begin showing films in the near future.
"Avery's Magic," an original musical fantasy presented by local youths ages 5 to 14, will be presented on weekends in May.